Violence erupts between Israeli Arabs and police after Mosque attack – Netanyahu enraged at arsonists

Some 300 residents of Upper Galilee village, where mosque was set on fire, hurl rocks at security forces,
burn tires; police responds with tear gas, stun grenades.

Clashes between Israeli Arabs, security forces in upper Galilee,
October 3, 2011
Photo By Yaron Kaminsky

By Eli Ashkenazi and Jack Khoury

Some 300 Israeli Arabs clashed with security forces in the Upper Galilee on Monday after a mosque in their village was set on fire in a suspected ‘price tag’ attack.

According to Israel Police, residents of the village of Tuba-Zangariyye began marching to Rosh Pina, while hurling rocks at security forces and burning tires.

Police forces responded to the clashes by firing tear gas and stun grenades at the protesters.

On Sunday night, a mosque was set on fire in the village of Tuba in the Upper Galilee. The entire interior of the mosque went up in flames, causing heavy damage. Holy books inside the mosque were burned.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Monday morning and asked him to locate the people responsible for the arson as fast as possible.

Netanyahu’s bureau said that the prime minister “boiled with rage” when he saw photographs of the mosque that was attacked and said that the action contradicts the values of the state of Israel, in which freedom of religion and worship are “supreme values.”

“The pictures are shocking and have no place in the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Initial photos from the scene of the attack show some partially burnt carpets and charred walls.

The burnt Mosque

Graffiti with the words “price tag” was found on the wall of the mosque.

Northern District Police Commander Major-General Roni Atia who was on the scene described the incident as “very serious in the context of ‘price tag’ attacks.” Atia has set up a special team to investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Residents of the village described the attack as “very serious.”

“It is obvious that Jewish extremists did this, despite the internal divisions we have, no one here would dare harm the mosque,” one of the residents said.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni commented on the incident, saying that if it was indeed a “price tag” act, then it must be condemned.

“Burning mosques contradicts Israel’s values as a Jewish state,” she said. “Such serious incidents obligate us to conduct a national self-examination.”

See Related: U.S. Jewish leaders condemn Mosque attack

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